ਯਾਦਾਂ – yaadan – memories

•••• ਯਾਦਾਂ – yaadan – memories ••••


The life of a woman… or is it the life of a girl that becomes a woman. When does a girl become a woman? After she hits 16… 18. After marriage? After giving birth to children? Then what happens? Society gives her names of a daughter then a wife then a mother… Does she not have her own “identity”… will society forever only call her names..? And never call her “her” by “her” own identity. When a woman reflects back on her life remembering her yaadan as a young girl, a daughter, then wife and then mother… what does she think…

Was a moment in her yaadan that she lived for herself…? Since a child, she is told you must behave a certain way… you abide to these rules and customs… you must know how to **cook and clean*** or else what will your in-laws say. She wants to study but is told the worth of an educated woman is nothing. If she wants to do something for herself she is told you do this only once you are married. And once she is married she told, well you should done whatever you wanted before you were married… Then she has children and her life becomes her children she never thinks anything else could be her life aside from her children. Her happiness comes from her husband and children.
She spends her time with children and doesn’t realise when they grow and become young adults. And now she sits remembering her days looking through her yaadan. Taking a deep breath… holding the photograph of when she was a girl reflecting she thinks… now I must live and live for myself and fulfill my own dreams.



Yaadan satrangi ne puttar, yaadan ehsaas ne, jazbaat ne…they are various different thoughts. Yaadan kadi vich kar nai hondi’aa they are always either good or bad. Yaadan kadi dukh deni’aa ne te kadi sukh…. depend karda yaad kis naal joori aa …koyi shehr di yaad… kisi insaan di yaad… kado, te kis tarah us di yaad aa jaye koi pata ni… ik geet… ik tasvaar tanu us pal di yaad karva denda hai te oh pal twade akhan moreh aa janda… 

– Balbir Kaur, my mother. 

mum looking











Rooh- Soul. I describe Rooh as a journey for me it is not a book but it is like a river that flows and flows.  It is azaad – free, free from barriers and borders it is simply just the Rooh- soul. I started putting together my poems for a potential collection together just a year ago, around this time.  The poems range from many different things from being in the diaspora to Panjab across to India and beyond man-made borders with history, politics, taboos and love with an emphasis on the roles of genders.

In most of my poems I always use words from – Panjabi-Hindi-Urdu, this is something that just comes natural being a lover of poetry that comes from India more so before it’s partition, the poetry in Panjabi/ Hindi/Urdu is just so beautiful and full of so much language. I hope one day I can write fully and properly in each language as I love them all.
The canals by Brindley place

become a prayer for Jhelum.

The library becomes a home for reading Faiz and Iqbal

with Lahore coming so close

yet so far away.

I write half ghazals thinking of Amritsar and Delhi,

languages spin intermingling Hindi Panjabi Urdu English.

Which is mine?/ when all four are mine…

(poem from Rooh)

book cover rooh

I came across the artwork of a Pakistani artist called Maryam Mughal and I just fell in love with her art, and style…and then I saw this painting and I just wanted it… I didn’t want anything else after as I felt it was perfect for Rooh. I felt it captures the essence of Rooh completely. And everything about it is just what I am… my mum actually thinks the painting looks like me lol. So after trying to get her contact details for so long, my publisher was able to get in contact with her and we got the rights for this beautiful beautiful painting for my cover. Please do check out her other work too, it’s absolutely beautiful you can search her on google. She isn’t on social media expect Facebook.


Now, coming to the title – I decided on the name Rooh for my poetry book — firstly because poetry is literally my Rooh (soul) and because it is a word which unites languages – Languages that are so rich in heritage and culture, words that are literally poetry.

Rooh (soul) is originated from Arabic but is used by many languages such as mentioned. Panjabi and Urdu are two languages in particular that I love, Panjabi being my mother tongue and Urdu the language that I literally fell in love with.

Rooh is available for pre orders and it will shipped world wide see links below. And thank you to those that have been giving a lot of love and appreciation I can’t describe how it all feels to see your dream coming true. At the age of just 22 I would have never imagined to be a published poet!

I can’t thank my publisher enough, for being so patient and understanding with my work. I am truly grateful to Stuart who is the co-founder of Verve Poetry Press along with Amerah Saleh.

Please do pre-order and come down to Waterstones if you can!!!

link for pre-orders;



ticket link for launch at Waterstones in Birmingham ;


India… rape-public?

Image result for mathur case rape 1980

[1980s- Protests In Delhi Against the Mathura rape case]

Flashback to March 26th 1972, India witnessed a custodial rape case. Custodial rape is perpetrated by a person employed by the state in a supervisory or custodial position, such as a police officer, public servant or jail or hospital employee. It also includes the rape of children in institutional care such as orphanages.

The Mathura case became the turning point in Indian Rape Law as it led to amendments in Rape Law via The criminal law act of 1983. In absolute brief, a young tribal girl named Mathura was raped by two policemen.

The case came for hearing in the sessions court on 1st June 1974. The judgement came forward that defendants are not guilty. It was stated that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse, her consent was voluntary.  And only the sexual intercourse can be proved and not rape. On appeal, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court set aside the judgement of sessions court and sentenced the accused policemen to one and five years of imprisonment.

In September 1979 Supreme Court of India justice reversed the judgement given by Bombay high court on the case. Supreme Court held that Mathura had raised no alarm, there was no visible injury on her body indicating no struggle, therefore, indicating no rape. The judge noted, “Because she was used to sex, she might have incited the cops [they were drunk on duty] to have intercourse with her”. Implying that it’s the girl’s fault and not the fault of the police officers.

But nothing really came into the light until the law professors Upendra Baxi, Raghunath Kelkar and Lotika Sarkar of Delhi University and Vasudha Dhagamwar of Pune wrote an open letter to Supreme Court protesting the concept of consent. “Consent involves submission, but the converse is not necessarily true…From the facts of the case, all that is established is submission and not consent…Is the taboo against pre-marital sex so strong as to provide a license to Indian police to rape young girls.”

This gave rise to widespread protests across India especially in Delhi demanding a review of judgement which received vast amounts of media coverage. But the court said that there is no Locus Standi to rule in the favour of Mathura, which eventually led to Government of India making amendments in Rape Law via The Criminal Law Act of 1983.

Now coming to 17th December 2012 we see the rape case that shocked the entire world – Nirbhaya.   An outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been nearly 6 years, one was let off as a juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed last year. On the 9th July, 2018 India’s Supreme Court on 9th July finally upholds death penalty for rapists in Nirbhaya case. When this actually happens I will believe it.

In the space of six years since Nirbhaya many more rape cases have been coming forward, a new rape case has been in headlines pretty much every day.

17th July 2018,  yesterday I came across three different rape incidents. “11-year-old girl was raped by 17 men while drugged and held captive for six months”/ “14-month old girl was raped by her great uncle”/”girl with disability gang-raped by 22 men for 7 Months”/    now just imagine these cases are reported…

WHY DO MEN RAPE? WHY IS INDIA A RAPE-PUBIC and not republic…. Why is there such delays with justice…

I have so many questions with little answers…

Savitri Goonesekere mentions that “Men mostly employ violence and rape to preserve their position of power in certain communities” Rape is seen as a method to exercise control over women to prove their masculinity. Often it is also used as a weapon of revenge against various disadvantaged or low caste women.

Writers such as Manto, Bedi, Amrita Pritam have looked at the effects of how rape was used in the partition. Manto’s Sharifan looks at rape as revenge was as political then as it is now.  Earlier this year we had the brutal incident of the 8-year-old Muslim Kashmiri girl Asifa. She was raped within a Hindu temple and currently, eight men are on trial for the rape and murder.

India was voted the most unsafe country for women to live. India has a culture of silence that is integrated by misogyny. It is deep-rooted often starting at home where,  girls treated differently to boys… boys are given more freedom and are open to doing whatever, whereas girls are told to be modest and behave a certain a way. These thoughts are also carried into the diaspora and believe it or not even first/ second/third generations carry these views.

In regards to rape, it is a serious social problem reflecting the reality of how women are treated. It needs to be dealt with at all levels from an individual, social, legal, economic and political aspect. Many think it is new that India is seeing so many rape cases but rape has always been at high rates The Mathura case being a prime example in the 1980s.

I can write many thousands of words but will it reach out to rapists and the government? Will my voice continually get rejected for wanting justice? There are many complex layers as to why rape takes place which needs to be analysed individually. As I mentioned in my previous blog post on five years since Nirbhaya the society needs to change… the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women. 

We need to become the revolution and change the present for the future.



Violence, Law and Women’s Rights in South Asia by Savitri Goonesekere

Men who rape (the psychology of the offender) by A. Nicholas Groth and H. Jean Birnbaum








Poetry and some thoughts

I was born outside the country my mother was born. Will this forever mean, that despite being born in England, this country is not truly mine? Diaspora, “the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland”.
I found myself mixing my clothes and music as a teenager bringing a perfect fit for fusion. At times I wanted to go away from identity but, the more I ran away the more it chased me. And now my identity as a British Sikh Panjabi defines my life.


I last studied English literature at the age of 16 for my GCSE’s. I was never good at spelling and grammar but, I still managed to scrap a grade B. I never imagined that one-day poetry will shape my existence. For me at first, poetry was just my emotions.
I thought it was just a way to express myself, a way to just talk about my emotions and feelings. The older I got the more I realised, there is so much more to poetry – that poetry isn’t just emotion it is a way of living. Poetry is a way to tell your history.

I enjoyed reading poetry especially Sufi poetry written by Rumi and Hafiz I read these two poets so much during the age of 17.
One day I was listening to a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qwwaali.
It was a Panjabi qwaali maye ni maye mere geetan de naina vich birhan di radak pawe…”
I instantly searched for the writer, of this qwwaali and I came across the poetry of Shiv Kumar Batlavi. And I realised how beautiful Panjabi poetry truly is. The Panjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, along with Amrita Pritam changed my life. I lost and found myself while reading their beautiful poetry.


(Shiv Kumar Batlavi)

But this wasn’t enough, I did not know how to read them in the actual Panjabi script – Gurmukhi, so I decided that I wanted to learn how to read and write Gurmukhi.
I spent the summer before starting university, learning how to read and write (and I am still in the process of improving). During this time I started reading a lot more Gurbani, the words of my Beloved Gurus and I realised how diluted translations are. Translations never give the real and raw feeling of what is written originally. Perhaps that is why they are called translations. As they can never hold the true essence of its original version.

Reading poetry in Panjabi gives my rooh – my soul a feeling which I cannot quite describe. I find words that touch me like they were made for me and me only. Which is why I decided to write in Panjabi.
Some say to me but you’re born in England, so isn’t English your mother tongue but for me, my mother tongue is my mother’s tongue.

I fear that my generation, living away from Panjab and the generations to come will forget the beauty of our language.
I fear they will forget this is the language that Waris Shah choose over Urdu. I fear they will forget this the language of our Gurus.
I fear that they will forget the need to know Panjabi.
Which is why even though I write in English at times I write about my mother tongue, Panjabi.

I’m grateful for my mother, for telling me stories while putting me to sleep. The love tales of Sohni – Mahiwal to Heer – Ranjha to the Usdasis of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Which now make way to my poetry.


(painting of Heer and Ranjha)

I love reading. And the more I read about my history, the more I realise I know nothing. The effects of 1947 and 1984 are still very much fresh, with questions unsolved.
I asked my Nanaji, about partition about two years ago and the way he described partition, the loss of his mother once again (he lost his biological mother at the age of 2) while crying, made me want to dive deeper into the brutal history of partition and colonisation.

the panjab

(map of Panjab pre-partition)

I started writing a lot about Panjab in both English and Panjabi. As through my poetry, I wanted to send reminders of the beautiful past Panjab had united, how it was the land that started poetry, how it was so rich in history. Before it was divided but the horrors of the partition cannot be ignored. Partition caused a division of hearts and over thousands died. Women were affected brutality. Panjab is still crying and Kashmir is still bleeding.

I visited Panjab in the summer of 2017 and I realised many of the youth, even in Panjab are going away from their roots. The high statistics of drug and female foeticide in Panjab also cannot be ignored yet it is.

And now I can’t stop writing about the effects of colonisation because it still affects us today. The way how society thinks.
How brown skin is not liked. How once India was once the land of sexual Gods, the land where the Kamasutra was written, the land that was called sohne ki chidiya today is one of the countries with the highest rape statics with many parts full of poverty.

After the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012, it made me truly question – is this world, ever going to be a world for women.
From reading the Ramayana and the Mahabharata it made this question arise so much.  And one day I looked at my mother, my grandmother and their eyes held so many stories, stories unknown. But these unknown stories are the stories of so many women. I use my poetry as a way of telling stories a way of voicing what is not heard or is often ignored. From what so many women experience. What I saw in society from the ends of Handsworth to Panjab makes way to the ink of my pen.

Of course, my own experiences shape my poetry. Someone once told me until your heart doesn’t break you can’t become a poet.
Yes, I’ve had my heart broken many times and perhaps that is why I feel everything so deeply. But this doesn’t necessarily mean getting your heart broken by a lover. Your heart can be broken in ways aside from love, such as society, injustices, family and friends. For me, like most poets, everything I experience and what I see around me shapes my writing.

This poem below, ” Who am I” explores the theme of my identity.

Who am I?

I am the winds of Lahore
that my Nanaji brought
across the border of Wagah

I am the soil of Amritsar
where my father was born
I am mixed with the air coming from Delhi
where my mother was born

Who am I?
is a question I am yet to solve
I am divided into names and culture
I sit oceans away from Panjab
yet I write about Panjab

I am somewhat British
yet more Panjabi
I write in English
wishing I wrote more in Panjabi…

– Rupinder Kaur

“Khuda kise de hath vich kalam den toh phela ohnu sach likhan di taufik devi
said by Amrita Pritam which roughly translates to –
God before placing in someone’s hand a pen give them the ability to write the truth”


(Amrita Pritam)

I can’t thank God, Allah, Ram, Waheguru, Satnaam enough, without the blessings of God I am no one.

Rupinder Kaur.

Five years since Nirbhaya…

16th December 2012, 23 year old medical student Jyoti Singh was raped. Gang raped. On 26th December, the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, took the decision to fly Jyoti to a transplant specialist hospital in Singapore. She died on 28th December from the internal injuries.

Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh

“We are still waiting for justice”: Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents.

Today marks 5 years since Nirbhaya but has anything changed? are women safer?  There are more and more rape cases coming forward – but is this making any difference? – how many more cases will it take for it to come to end completely? – to destroy something it must be finished from its root.

On 17th December 2012 a outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been 5 years and this still has not happened, one was let of as juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed this year.

Image result for nirbhaya case

Since the reporting of Nirbhaya there has been an increase of reporting rape cases by 35%. Rape statistics have increased over the years, leading people to question why has there been increase. But I believe personally rape has always been at high rates it was just never reported by so many due to victims or victims parents thinking it will cause shame for them.

The root of rape cases – why do they happen; a few things come into my mind –

Bollywood influence – many, many bollywood films are male centred with a female just for eye candy, item songs showing one girl with so many men and she is loving it. Films show how men chase women till she gives and somehow falls in love with them.

Lack of education – not having access to education especially in rural areas means that some are not aware of what women are capble of doing – women across not just India but the vast globe have exceeded in various jobs and titles and not just being at home listening to whatever a male says – being the father or later the husband. Women are independent in certain places in India which many other rural areas are unaware off.

But what causes someone to rape a baby, a young girl ? perhaps they are mentally ill..?    I really don’t know. 6 days ago, 5-year-old Haryana girl was raped and she was found with 16-cm wooden stick inserted in her private parts.

I’m not sure how rape cases can come to end but I think it starts at home. Instead of telling girls how they can save themselves from being raped how about we start teaching boys not to rape. To create a change in society we need to start at home. Bring up both boys and girls with equality – not differentiate with them. We need to break the stigma that if a girl has male friends she is a not a good girl or doesn’t come from a good family. If a girl has a boyfriend it does not mean she is characterless.

In 2015 A documentary film directed by Lesleed Udwin which was part of the BBC’s ongoing Storyville series brought into light what goes through the mind of rapists and those that think it is a girls fault that she gets raped.

India Daughter

This film was banned in India but it aired outside of India on 4 March 2015 was uploaded on YouTube going viral. On 5 March, the Indian government directed YouTube to block the video in India. The documentary is now available to watch on Netflix with some bits on YouTube.

The documentary had some shocking statements made by the rapists –



Was this rapist – brought up this way, is this what he was taught by his parents. Is this what he saw in society and then thought it was norm which is why he raped Jyoti? I don’t know.

It has been 70 years since the Independence of India and 5 years since this brutal rape case. Are women free in India? Can a woman walk alone past 8pm.


An image from the protest which took place a day after the rape of Jyoti Singh.

I am not sure when the day will come, when across the entire world women are treated with equal respect and that having a girl is just as valuable as a boy.

When will #Nirbhaya get justice… I am not sure but for now, I believe only God can give her justice. The Government is corrupted, the system needs to break at its root. The society needs to change… and as mentioned in order to make this change, the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world safe for women.

Sources used –





India’s daughter –  film which is available on Netflix to watch.



Wagah Border…

Wagah de border te raah puchdi Lahore’an de haye… 

15th August 1947
While India was celebrating
Panjab was crying
Crying tears of blood

Ravi was separated from her sister Chenab
And the river of love became filled with blood

The land that once co-existed with all faiths
Today was fighting
Hindu here
Sikh here
Musalman there
No one thought about my PanjabA line was drawn
And that was it
No one thought about the consequences
The mass migration
The killings
The rapes
The women abducted
The families separated
The houses destroyedMy Lahore
My Nankana
Was separated from me
70 years on
I still hear the cries of my people Panjab was torn apart into two pieces
But – where am I to exist
When I exist in a united Panjab
A Panjab without Wagah Border
A Panjab where it’s five rivers flow together




Where am I to exist
Where am I to exist…


(photography and poetry – Rupinder Kaur)